Nuclear Cooperation Agreement between Canada and India

Nuclear Cooperation Agreement between Canada and India now in effect

The Honourable Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, recently completed a two-day visit to Canada, with stops in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. During his visit, Prime Minister Harper and Prime Minister Modi saw the completion of memoranda of understanding in a range of areas. One such area was nuclear energy, as India is looking to Canada to enhance its energy security by diversifying its sources of supply. Since coming to power in May, Prime Minister Modi has pledged to increase India’s renewable energy in a bid to lower coal use and bring electricity to more than 300 million poor people currently without power. He has chosen nuclear to be part of India’s energy mix.

The Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA) between Canada and India, and the supporting Appropriate Arrangement, which allows for the effective implementation of the NCA and ensures appropriate oversight with respect to the information required by Canada, are now in effect.

These agreements provide the framework through which nuclear cooperation for peaceful purposes is conducted, in accordance with Canada’s nuclear non-proliferation policy. One commercial agreement involving Saskatchewan-based Cameco will see the company supply India with over seven million pounds of uranium over the next five years. This deal was made possible due in part to the Canada-India NCA.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is responsible for ensuring that nuclear material, equipment and technology will only go to facilities in India under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards regime that includes verification, physical inspections and detailed annual reporting. Canada will receive the necessary assurances from India and the IAEA safeguards program on the peaceful use of each Canadian export of nuclear material, equipment and technology to India. These assurances will come directly from IAEA personnel who will be physically inspecting and verifying that India is meeting its international safeguards commitment that its nuclear facilities are only used for peaceful purposes.

Canadians, and the world, have not forgotten the events of 1974, when India built its first atomic bomb using plutonium from a Canadian-made reactor. But we should not let events of the past control our future as a global community. Regulatory oversight since that time has improved significantly and IAEA safeguards control provide credible assurances that countries are honouring their international obligations.

In 2008, an American led policy in which India agreed to separate its civil and military nuclear facilities and to place all its civil nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards was approved by the IAEA and the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a group of 45 countries that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons by establishing guidelines for nuclear and nuclear-related exports. This led to Canada concluding its own bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement with India in 2010, and an appropriate arrangement in 2013, which stipulates that Canadian nuclear materials can go only to IAEA safeguarded facilities. This is equivalent to arrangements with other countries.

Entering into nuclear cooperation agreements is nothing new to government. Canada has entered into NCAs with 30 countries, and for most NCAs, there is a corresponding AA that the CNSC has in place with that country’s nuclear authority.

In all cases, the CNSC will only issue an export licence to send nuclear material or equipment to India as long as India provides peaceful end-use assurances on each shipment, that it is sent to a facility subject to IAEA international safeguards, and that IAEA continues its verification and confirms no misuse of nuclear activities under its inspection in India. Finally, if India violates its treaty with Canada or violates its safeguards agreement with the IAEA, the CNSC can and will stop shipments to India, period.